Sanofi's Multaq gets boost from U.K., France

Sanofi-Aventis is two steps closer to getting its atrial fibrillation drug Multaq onto formularies in Europe. The U.K.'s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence gave Multaq its final recommendation for use by the National Health Service, with final guidance expected next month. And French authorities have upped their efficacy assessment of Multaq to "significant," which means the government will pay 65 percent of the cost of the drug.

Multaq is one of Sanofi's hopes for stopgap revenue as some of its older drugs, including the megablockbuster Plavix, near the patent cliff. Finally approved in July 2009, it's gotten off to a slow start, sales-wise. A NICE approval wouldn't only boost sales in the U.K., but could also benefit Multaq in other countries that often follow NICE decisions.

France's reimbursement stamp gives the drug another foothold in Europe, perhaps to be followed by Italy and Sweden. Those countries have issued recommendations on reimbursement Multaq, Dow Jones reports. Multaq hasn't yet hit the market in any of these three countries, but Sanofi is hoping to launch in France by year's end.

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